The book Lessons from the Light: What We Can Learn from the Near-Death Experience by Kenneth Ring and Evelyn Elsaesser-Valarino, 2006, presents an extensive study of near-death experiences (NDEs). Some spiritual insights into these life-changing encounters and the lessons that can be learned through NDEs are discussed in the book. This paper will reflect on Chapter 9, which is called “Through a Glass Lightly: Seeing the World with NDE-Opened Eyes”.
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Chapter 9 presents a benign virus hypothesis that suggests that NDEs may act as a benign virus, and their benefits can be transmitted without personal encounters with NDEs. By contrast, the same effects can be produced by presenting relevant information to individuals interested in NDEs (Ring and Elsaesser-Valarino 208). Although the research is still to continue, it seems remarkable what effects the information about NDEs produced on the study participants, whose reactions are described in the case histories. For instance, overcoming the fear of death, a positive attitude to life, and a feeling of general well-being is mentioned as NDEs benefits stemming from the mere exposure to the NDE information. In my view, these effects allow increasing the quality of life significantly. Interestingly, it seems unnecessary to be a true believer, as it is stated that having an open mind about the phenomenon is quite sufficient.
All in all, a benign virus hypothesis suggests that internalizing the NDEs insights allows obtaining the same benefits as personal NDEs. In my opinion, applying this hypothesis may have life-changing effects on people interested in NDEs. It appears that the main benefit would be enhancing the quality of life by eliminating the fears and developing a positive outlook on life.
Ring, Kenneth, and Evelyn Elsaesser-Valarino. Lessons from the Light: What We Can Learn from the Near-Death Experience. Moment Point Press, 2006.